“Percy Jack­son and the Olympians” prompts a fam­ily’s Greek odyssey.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - Our read­ers share tales of their ram­bles around the world. To tell us about your own trip, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fond­est mem­o­ries, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite photos.

Who: Miriam (the au­thor) and Sam Morataya; our three daugh­ters, Iso­bel (12), Char­lotte (10) and Amanda (7); and our son, Tom (5), all from An­napo­lis, Md.

Where, when, why: Our old­est daugh­ter, Iso­bel, got into Greek mythol­ogy thanks to Rick Rior­dan’s “Percy Jack­son and the Olympians” se­ries. These fun books make the Greek gods come alive. Our fam­ily caught her en­thu­si­asm, and so I started to plan a trip to Greece. (I was just look­ing for an ex­cuse to go, re­ally!) Our trip there was June 8-22, start­ing in Athens, then Mount Olym­pus, Me­te­ora, the Io­nian Sea is­land of Le­fkada, and Del­phi. I wanted to mix an­cient sites with nat­u­ral beauty and a few beach days.

High­lights and high points: Me­te­ora, an amaz­ing ge­o­log­i­cal land­scape of weath­ered rock pin­na­cles topped by me­dieval monas­ter­ies, was re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing. Although the kids grum­bled about hik­ing up to Moni Agias Tri­a­dos from our ho­tel, it was re­ward­ing to hike the hills ap­proach­ing the monastery and then climb the steps carved into the rock to get to the top and en­joy the seren­ity of the small monastery.

We spent five days on the south­ern coast of Le­fkada, con­nected to the main­land by a bridge. (Sam gets sea­sick, so this was a per­fect is­land op­tion for us.) Le­fkada is a stun­ningly beau­ti­ful moun­tain­ous is­land with sparkling wa­ter that varies

from light blue to turquoise and small vil­lages clus­tered here and there. We stayed near Vasi­liki, in a se­cluded villa with an in­fin­ity pool and sweep­ing view of the sea and the dis­tant is­land of Ithaca.

Cul­tural con­nec­tion or

dis­con­nect: We vis­ited Greece dur­ing their fi­nan­cial tur­moil, and although we saw lit­tle ev­i­dence of un­rest, we did leave with strong feel­ings of hope that this amaz­ing cul­ture and way of life can rise above the cur­rent dif­fi­cul­ties. It was so nice to en­counter so many lov­ingly tended fam­ily busi­nesses — ev­ery­thing from gas sta­tions, su­per­mar­kets, ho­tels and tourist shops. My fa­vorite mem­ory of Athens was clos­ing my eyes while on the Acrop­o­lis hill and hear­ing three over­lap­ping sounds from the city be­low: mu­sic drift­ing up from a con­cert, mega­phone voices from a po­lit­i­cal demon­stra­tion and church bells.

Big­gest laugh or cry: The lo­gis­tics of our trip were tricky, and my re­spon­si­bil­ity. My plan to get from Athens to Mount Olym­pus was to take the train to Larissa and then pick up our rental car and drive the rest of the way. I thought I had it all timed out, but when we got to the Avis in Larissa at 3 p.m., it was closed, and the sign on the door stated their hours: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., then 6 to 7:30 p.m. We had to laugh, be­cause although Amer­i­cans might have un­rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions of ser­vice providers, these hours, at a na­tional chain, were ridicu­lous! We had to spend three long hours in the hum­drum (sorry) town of Larissa with four tired kids.

How un­ex­pected: It was a pleas­ant sur­prise how easy it was to nav­i­gate our drive around main­land Greece. Dur­ing our two-week trip, we tra­versed 1,300 miles of the coun­try and, be­cause of a rental glitch, did so with­out a GPS! At first we were dis­mayed, but we found that with our MapMe app and the easy road sys­tem sign­posts — in Greek and English — we reached each des­ti­na­tion with­out too much trou­ble. The bonus of all the driv­ing we did was that we saw a full rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the coun­try, from the beau­ti­ful coastal roads along im­pos­si­bly blue wa­ter, to twisty moun­tain highways, to charm­ing vil­lages and not-so-charm­ing in­dus­trial stretches.

Fond­est me­mento or

mem­ory: Ev­ery two years, we take our kids on a “big trip.” Each time, I am struck by how ad­ven­tur­ous and open to new ex­pe­ri­ences they are. My gift this year was see­ing them ex­plor­ing an­cient ru­ins while chat­ting about mythol­ogy and en­joy­ing the ado­ra­tion of shop own­ers when try­ing out their few Greek words. As we came upon a tem­ple of Apollo in Del­phi, our 5-year-old said, “He’s the sun god, and look, the sun shines into his tem­ple!”


Inspired by books about Greek mythol­ogy, theMo­ratayas went to the An­cient Agora of Athens, above, with the Acrop­o­lis be­hind them, stayed on an Io­nian is­land and drove across the main­land — sans GPS.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.